Extinction Rebellion priest says she will continue to protest despite risk of conviction

The Rev Sue Parfitt being led away by officers at Oxford Circus during the Exctinction Rebellion

A 77-year-old priest has told a court that she will not stop protesting for climate change action despite the risk of a criminal conviction. 

The Rev Sue Parfitt, of Bristol, was arrested as she and other climate campaigners blocked Oxford Circus in central London during an Extinction Rebllion protest in April last year. 

She is on trial with another campaigner, 29-year-old Dimitra Soukiouroglou.  They both deny breaching an order banning protests at Oxford Circus and Waterloo. 

Rev Parfitt told the City of London Magistrates' Court that lying down on the road had been hard for her because she is not generally a lawbreaker. 

When asked by a police officer to move, she said she couldn't because of her sense of responsibility to save future generations from the harmful effects of climate change.

"When asked by the sergeant to move, it did take some small effort on my part to refuse, I'm not in the habit of saying no to policemen," she said. 

"I knew I must stand my ground; my responsibility was to the many millions in this world who are currently affected as a matter of climate justice now - it is the poor of the world who are mostly affected by climate change now - but also to future generations who will be most grievously affected."

She suggested that she would continue to resort to civil disobedience despite the legal risks. 

"My small action constitutes a necessary part of a worldwide action that we have to hope, for all our sakes, will be successful in preventing even worse harm than is imminently threatened by climate change," she said. 

"I am not a lawyer and not a scientist but I am also not a criminal. I have spent my life as a law-abiding citizen.

"But if we are to survive as a race and as a creation, we have to take the most radical, unpopular, counter-intuitive action, including acts of civil disobedience."

Rev Parfitt is asking the court to acquit her.  The trial continues.